EU sets duties to limit imports of Chinese e-bikes

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will impose duties from Thursday on Chinese electric bicycles in a move to curb cheap imports that European producers say are flooding the market.

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The anti-dumping duties are the latest in a series of EU measures against Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel, which have sparked strong words from Beijing.

The EU shares U.S. concerns about technology transfers and state subsidies but has called on countries to avoid a trade war. Earlier this month, the United States and China slapped tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imports.

The European Commission, which is carrying out an investigation on behalf of the 28 EU members, decided that tariffs of between 21.8 and 83.6 percent should apply for all e-bikes coming from China, the EU official journal said.

Taiwan’s Giant, one of the world’s largest bicycle makers with factories in China as well as in the Netherlands, was subject to a rate of 27.5 percent.

The investigation itself is set to run until January 2019, when definitive duties typically lasting five years could apply.

The Commission found Chinese exports of e-bikes to the European Union more than tripled from 2014 to the 12 month period until Sept 2017. Their market share rose to 35 percent, while their average prices fell by 11 percent.

The European Bicycle Manufacturers Association, which brought the case, said it applauded the decision, adding the duties would give European e-bike makers the chance to recover lost sales.

LEVA-EU, a group including e-bike importers and distributors, described the duties as “absurd”, saying that the EU industry was not suffering and that EU producers imported most components from China.

EU producers include Dutch groups Accell and Gazelle, Romania’s Eurosport DHS and Germany’s Derby Cycle Holding.

Imports of Chinese e-bikes were subject to registration from early May, meaning that the duties could be backdated until then. There is also a parallel EU investigation into whether Chinese e-bike exporters have benefited from excessive state subsidies

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Raissa Kasolowsky, William Maclean